Author Topic: Is language really rule-based? [Details inside]  (Read 10680 times)

Offline Guijarro

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Re: Is language really rule-based? [Details inside]
« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2014, 11:25:26 AM »
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...you could argue that everything is just an illusion and that there is nothing to explain because nothing can be explained, but that's a boring position, and it doesn't give any motivation for scientific study

I do not know what an illusion is FOR YOU, either; however, I have never claimed that there is nothing to explain. On the contrary, I insist on serious researching by following the three criteria of adequacy proposed by Chomsky in Aspects, namely:

(1) We should point clearly to the object are we trying to study, debate, etc. (i.e., we need to be sure to attain the level of observational adequacy).

(2) Try to describe it in an accurate way or achieve the level of descriptive adequacy (in here I bring in three further requisites proposed by Marr in his book on Vision:

2 (a) Describe the computations that bring about this object and make it work
2 (b) Describe the representational frame where this object lies.
2 (c) Describe the implementations that humans have been able to achieve to somehow reinforce that object.

AND, LAST BUT NOT LEAST:

(3) Explain how it came about into the world. Attain the explanatory adequacy level.

It's anything but boring, you see? But our research does not guarantee that we find out THE TRUTH about this or that. It only guarantees that your model is well constructed and, in the best cases, it will predict likely outcomes and will therefore serve its purpose beautifully.

I am not certain about mathematics (I am an absolute ignorant in these matters, although I remember old Kurt Gödel saying that they cannot be as exact as they claim to be --no idea why, though!) as the only way to describe patterns, but if you can use them and they work for you, be my guest, I have nothing to oppose.

As to the notion of FACT, I think we are typically not observing the same "object" here, you and I.
 
For me a FACT is a mental representation which is stored directly in the box of representations: "you are reading this now", "your name is Daniel", "you are American and I am Spanish", etc. They are the representations WITH which we build up our thoughts and reasonings. We don't question them, or doubt them, or explain them. If this would stand for a head (or a box of representations), [  ], a factual representation would be [R].

The other represenations, those that are not facts, are embedded into factual representations and we think and reason ABOUT them, not with them. We could illustrate them like this [R (R)] where the second R is not a fact. Any fact whatsoever may change its place in the box of representations and so we might be able to debate whether you really are reading this or are imagining it, or whatever, or any other wild discussion.

We normally get factual representations through three sources: (a) perception; (b) communication, and (c) logical thinking. Perceptions are the best means to achieve factual representations.

However, sometimes, we have to admit that communication over-rides perception. We see the sun moving around us, and yet, they have told us that it's we that travel around it. If we attach a strong authority to the communicating source, then we also get factual representations. Finally, we are able to logically imagine that Julius Caesar had never had breakfast with Noam Chomsky; this is normally also a fact for us.

All these notions are MY notions which I have tried to point to as clearly as I am able to do. You may have other notions which point to different objects and so, when we debate we will never be talking about the same thing, although we may call it with the same term, unless we start by pointing clearly to an object/event/relationship and build up from there.

This is what I think is really worth doing!

Offline dublin

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Re: Is language really rule-based? [Details inside]
« Reply #31 on: March 21, 2014, 06:26:30 AM »
Hi djr33. As promissed:

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Within the system, there should be limits on what could be a possible sentence, either synchronically or (immediately) diachronically. Grammaticality seems to prove the first, but with random changes occuring diachronically, it's hard to see what the rules really accomplish. If any form is a possible change, then is it conceptually helpful to think of these as "rules" rather than just, as Cory said, conventions?

I believe that rules are agreed between the group members. In any intaractions rules help predicting the outcome of the action. So language rules allow for predicitve actions in data to meaning transformation which allows us to process data in parallel. As the sentance unfolds, using rules we can preload possible meanings stored in our memory.


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More broadly (at a universal level), there should be some limits on what a possible language would look like. But I'm entirely unconvinced. Some languages wouldn't be useful, but I don't see how any conceivable language would be impossible for human communication.

I am not sure what you mean here. Group languages are agreed by the group. so what ever works for the group goes. But certain rules are more natural than others and some are more efficient in supporting predictive algorithms.

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I was once told (very early on in my studies of linguistics!) that Chomsky's theories suggest that if aliens were to come to Earth they would be unable to learn human languages because it is a uniquely human property with UG.

I would not agree with this entirely. If aliens possess the same type of sensory organs, if they possess the same type of logic, if they are able to imitate humans in some way, and if they spend enough time around humans, in order to experience human reality and create their own database of "sensory pattern - meaning" key value pairs, they they would be able to learn some language used by humans. Look at domesticated animals and humans.


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I don't think there are any inherent limits on the system.

The problem is what you consider a language. If you only consider spoken group language a language, then the limits are the limits of effectiveness. If you consider language to be "an algorithm created by a system perceiving the world around itself in order to extract the meaning from perceived sensory input data" then the limit is someones imagination.

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To rephrase my question, perhaps: what's the point in calling the patterns "rules"? Is it helpful? It it meaningful?

You are mixing patterns and change patterns. Change patterns are patterns of change of patterns. Rules are change patterns created by us.

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I like the word 'conventions' rather than rules, and I think they emerge and are passed on by people who interpret them to have meaning, and therefore there is no biological component at all other than the limits put on our world by having an embodied mind. People forget these rules, make mistakes, interprets its usage differently, or even just slightly differently, and that is what results in a speech community having variation in how these conventions are played out.  So 'hard' rules might just be something that is unlikely to evolve!

There are no universal rules just group rules. What ever group agrees on becomes the rule for that group.

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There's another analogy between linguistic and biological evolution for us then, how 'optimal' something is for use in its environment.  Lingustic items get used and understood and passed on if they're good enough, or, not selected against - how 'perfect' are a butterfly's wings or an elephants nose, or the human spine?  They get the job done!

Exactly.

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Right. That's all I mean. But I also mean that, interestingly also still parallel to evolution, coincidental similarities aren't unexpected-- squid eyes and human eyes are very very similar in structure yet are unrelated genetically.

The evolution is not blind. Systems evolve to be most effective given the environment. It is entirely possible that there are only so many effective system designs for every system. If you look at epigenetic data, this seems to be exactly the case.

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languages have evolved to be useful within the limits of how combinatorial systems work, NOT some special human system that would be incomprehensible to equally intelligent aliens!

I would rephrase this to:

languages have evolved to be useful within the limits of how predictive systems work and within under the influence of the environment and life experience in which they developed, NOT some special human system that would be incomprehensible to equally intelligent aliens!

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Human languages (and their rules) should be expected developments

Any language is expected development

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Do patterns necessarily imply rules? For example, tidal patterns exist, but are there rules?

The observer creates rules based on observations and his understanding of it. Two observers compare their created rules and agree group rule...and so on...
The most important thing in science is to know when to stop laughing

Offline dublin

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Re: Is language really rule-based? [Details inside]
« Reply #32 on: March 21, 2014, 09:58:41 AM »
djr33

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I'm uncomfortable not being right or wrong. If I'm wrong, then I can seek to understand more and approach being right (even if I never reach it). But if I am simply not right or wrong, I don't know what to do next; truly, to me, I'm no longer aware of the point of science.

To have fun exploring. :)

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The Japanese and Korean term mu (Japanese: 無; Korean: 무) or Chinese wu (traditional Chinese: 無; simplified Chinese: 无) meaning "not have; without" is a key word in Buddhism, especially the Chan and Zen traditions.

The term is often used or translated to mean that the question itself must be "unasked": no answer can exist in the terms provided. Zhaozhou's answer, which literally means that dogs do not have Buddha nature, has been interpreted by Robert Pirsig and Douglas Hofstadter to mean that such categorical thinking is a delusion, that yes and no are both correct and incorrect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mu_(negative)
The most important thing in science is to know when to stop laughing